Description

This panorama of London, dated 1616, is an engraving by Claes Visscher (1586–1652), and one of the best views of London from the early 17th century. The artist may never have visited London; the image derived instead from older printed views of the city, therefore presenting London as it would have been in approximately 1600. From a view point on the south bank, the image captures some of London's most important buildings, including cathedrals such as St Pauls dominating the sky line north of the river, and the Globe Theatre in Southwark on the south bank, built by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the company to which William Shakespeare belonged. The engraving would have been intended for the homes of the very wealthy, as the elaborate decoration plays on the city's prosperity and fame. Among the grandeur, however, Visscher illustrates some of the 2,000 licensed watermen, rowing their boats up and down an unrealistically-wide Thames, cowherds driving cows for milking, and the gatehouse of London Bridge adorned with the severed heads of traitors.

Although some buildings, such as the Tower of London, remain the same London today is very different from the London portrayed in Visscher's panorama. These changes can be explored here.

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